Direct provision centre worker mocked over English accent awarded €3,500 compensation

Direct Provision Centre Worker Mocked Over English Accent Awarded €3,500 Compensation
A worker in a direct provision centre in Dublin who was mocked at work by colleagues over his English accent has been awarded €3,500 in compensation.
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Seán McCárthaigh

A worker in a direct provision centre in Dublin who was mocked at work by colleagues over his English accent has been awarded €3,500 in compensation.

The Workplace Relations Commission ruled that Coolebridge, a company which operates a number of direct provision centres as well as emergency accommodation facilities in Dublin, had discriminated against general assistant, Chris Murray, on grounds of race.


No representative of Coolebridge attended the WRC hearing and the company was not legally represented.

Mr Murray argued that the company had breached the Employment Equality Act by treating him less favourably than others in a comparable situation on grounds of race.

He told the WRC that he enjoyed the work at the centre, which is based in Inchicore, and felt rewarded by his interactions with service users who were international refugees seeking protection and asylum.

The WRC heard that he began work in the centre in July 2022, where he worked 12-hour shifts at the rate of €12 per hour.


Mr Murray explained that he is an Irish national but, because of his upbringing, speaks with an English accent.

He claimed his work colleagues took pleasure in teasing him about his accent and would refer to him as “the Protestant". Mr Murray said the name-calling was a continuous running joke amongst staff members.

He told the WRC that he felt it was intended to belittle and disparage him. Mr Murray outlined how he was repeatedly asked what he was doing in the predominantly Catholic area of Inchicore.

The WRC heard that he believed his national identity was being deliberately denied and that another identity was being imposed.


He admitted becoming annoyed at the constant reference to him as a Protestant.

Signs and office notices

Mr Murray provided the WRC with evidence about how this included signs on the wall and office notices.

Although he raised the issue with his line manager, Mr Murray said his line manager did not address the matter with his colleagues and instead advised him “not to take offence".

He claimed the mocking continued until his employment was terminated in May 2023.


In her ruling, WRC adjudication officer, Penelope McGrath, said she was satisfied that Mr Murray had demonstrated that he was treated less favourably than his co-workers on the grounds of race.

Ms McGrath said it had been particularly shown in the imputation by his colleague of a national origin and religion which were designed “to strip him of his identity".

She said Coolebridge had failed to rebut any of the complainant’s evidence.

Ms McGrath said Mr Murray was further victimised by his employer after his line manager failed to address the issue when asked by the complainant.

The WRC ruled that it could not consider a separate claim by Mr Murray that he had been unfairly dismissed by Coolebridge as he did not have the required 52 weeks of employment to bring a claim under the legislation.

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